By Aleah Lynn and Maya Levy
The competitive cheer team won a four-team event on Saturday, Jan. 6, in Fort Walton Beach, and another event at Chiles on Jan. 10.
“The goal this year is to excel and make it to state,” co-captain Iman Baker said.
In a couple weeks, the squad will go to regionals in hopes of qualifying for the state tournament. However, they will be unable to advance to nationals because the new coaching staff and new sponsor did not turn the necessary paperwork in on time.
Last year, the team came in fourth in the nation and was exempt from state competition because it won another qualifying event.
Two years ago, the team placed second in the state, but did not qualify for nationals.
The team practices every day which includes intense conditioning.
The captain is senior Zyaire Williams. In addition, Baker, a junior, and senior Kassie Stuart serve as co-captains. The team includes 15 cheerleaders, three of which are alternates.
The competitive cheerleading squad had a rough start at the beginning of their practices. This year they received both new coaches, Jeff Hunnicutt and Samantha Lee. As well as new sponsors, Jana Wells and Rebecca Galeano.
The team had to adapt to these changes which took away from some of their practice time.
On Jan. 10, 2018 the competitive cheerleading team attended a competition in the Chiles gym and won first place.
The competition is the last before the regionals which will be held on Jan. 19th at Oakley High School in Jacksonville. Shortly after Regionals the team will be competing on Feb. 4 and 5 in Gainesville in the State competition.
We didn’t have as much practice as other teams did,” said senior Precious McDonald. “The team just wasn’t where it was last year.”
McDonald is one of the captains of the Varsity team and has been cheering for Leon for four years. According to her, the competition team’s ability to pull through and overcome obstacles ultimately landed them first place.
“There might be some rough practices but every single competition we’re always winning,” said McDonald. “We always do better when we perform in front of a crowd.”
Senior Zyaire Williams is one of the captains of the competition team. In her opinion this year’s team is stronger than last year’s due to the many challenges they faced.
As a senior, Williams is more driven for the team to succeed since this is her last year cheering for Leon.
Part of the teams success, Williams claims, is due to the friendships between members.
“I’ve got the best team, I’ve got the best girls by my side,” said Williams. “When I’m having my bad days one of them always knows and steps up to lead.”